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Protecting Your Legacy

San Antonio Probate Blog

Gathering your deceased loved one's vital documents

The passing of a loved one is an emotional time, especially if the deceased was a parent. You are likely feeling overwhelmed, not only with your own emotions, but with the emotions of your siblings and other relatives and friends who are feeling the loss. While you certainly need time to mourn and to comfort your loved ones, there are also legal details to take care of.

Hopefully, your parent left everything in order, with detailed listings of assets and liabilities, easy-to-locate information and a carefully prepared estate plan. Your parent may even have a lawyer ready to jump in and handle the tedious matters of probate. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and you may be on your own to gather the critical documents you need to close out your loved one's estate.

No will, or too many wills, could lead to probate litigation

There are many issues that could lead to conflicts when working to settle the estate of a recently-deceased Texas resident. When there are complex or valuable assets involved, especially with those of successful artists, it can be difficult to work through the legal proceedings of closing the estate without the right information. Unfortunately, probate litigation may take place in hopes of coming to terms.

Not having any type of will, or having more than one will could easily cause conflict. Without a will, there is a substantial chance that surviving loved ones will feel entitled to certain property, and often, families end up at each others' throats due to disagreements. As a result, it may take probate courts years to determine who should receive what.

End-of-life care wishes can go into estate planning

When individuals in Texas have plans for any type of situation, they often feel better about what they may face in the future. In particular, estate planning can help address a myriad of life aspects that could help parties feel as if they have not left anything up to chance. However, some individuals may not take the time needed to address how they would like their care attended to at the end of their lives.

In many cases, family members find themselves in the difficult position of having to make medical decisions for an ailing loved one who can no longer express his or her wishes. Because of the love and attachment these family members may have, they could end up agreeing to many medical procedures to help extend the life of their loved one. It may be important to note that a study involving terminally ill individuals indicated that less than 20 percent of these parties wanted treatment to extend their lives, so it is possible that family members may agree to unnecessary procedures due to a lack of knowledge.

Unclear wording in will leads to probate litigation

When a loved one passes away, surviving family can become very protective over the assets left behind. In particular, when a will seems to leave instructions for distribution, individuals can feel dismayed when it appears that those instructions are not being followed. In fact, some issues could even lead to probate litigation.

Unfortunately, it is common for issues to arise when the wording of legal documents is unclear. One family in Texas faced such an issue when it came to the handing down of land within a family. After a woman's death, she left a 316-acre ranch to her son, and the will had instructions stating that the land should not be sold but rather handed down to the woman's grandchildren.

Executors have many tasks to complete during probate

Most Texas residents want their final affairs to be handled properly and with dignity. Fortunately, there are many estate planning options that could help interested parties better ensure that their estates close in the manners they see fit. In particular, it may prove wise for individuals to think carefully about who they want to put in charge of their probate proceedings.

The person who carries out the necessary probate-related duties, including submitting the will to the court, is known as an executor. When creating their estate plans, individuals have the opportunity to name a person or multiple people to act in the role. However, choosing the right person or people is vital, as probate can be difficult and time-consuming.

Handwritten will leads to probate litigation

In Texas and elsewhere, obtaining an unexpected inheritance can often make anyone feel a sense of joy and excitement. However, before assets can be distributed, a will must be validated and the probate process needs to take place. Unfortunately, during the legal proceedings, conflicts could arise that lead to probate litigation.

It was recently reported that the nephew of a recently deceased man is challenging the contents of a handwritten will. Apparently, the will indicates that the decedent's $4.2 million apartment and other assets should go to the doorman at his apartment building and other members of the building's staff. The staff members believe that the wishes expressed in the man's will are his true intentions as he cared about the staff and they cared about him.

Summary probate simplifies closing a small estate

If your loved one recently died, you may be dreading the process of probate. Whether you have seen news stories of celebrities whose estates dragged through years of contests and litigation or you have personal experience with a tedious and stressful probate, you are not looking forward to the months ahead for your loved one's little estate.

While it is often true that larger estates may languish in probate for years, this is not always necessary for small, simple estates. If your loved one lived a simple life and died with few assets and debts, probate may be a simpler process for you and your family.

Probate litigation can involve many people and entities

Many complications can arise after a Texas resident's death. When estate plans or beneficiary designations have not been updated, the chance for conflict could increase. In many cases, probate litigation may be necessary in order to resolve these conflicts, and third parties could end up caught up in the disputes.

It was recently reported that an insurance company is asking to be left out of such a dispute. Apparently, the estate of an out-of-state man is facing conflict involving the man's ex-wife. Reports stated that the ex-wife and the estate representative are at odds over the man's life insurance policy, which is worth nearly $154,000. The ex-wife was named as the beneficiary of the policy, but the couple divorced just over a month before the man's death. Now the estate representative is claiming beneficiary status.

Estate funds could be used to address probate litigation

Being named executor of an estate can bring about mixed emotions. Some people may feel honored that their loved ones trusted them with such responsibility, and others may feel overwhelmed by the idea of going through probate. In particular, Texas residents may worry about the possibility of estate disputes and having to go through probate litigation.

The possibility of conflict exists with nearly every estate. Because most people know that legal proceedings can be costly, executors may wonder what funds they could use in order to handle probate litigation. Fortunately, when conflict arises in relation to a person's will, such as challenges to the contents of the document or distribution of assets, an executor can utilize estate funds in order to handle the legal proceedings and costs of legal counsel.

Protecting assets before probate is important job of executors

The passing of a loved one is a major event for most Texas residents. The lives of many people may be changed considerably, and individuals put in charge of the decedents' final affairs will have many tasks to handle, especially when it comes to probate. Executors typically know ahead of time that they will face these duties, and taking certain steps soon after the death may be wise.

One of the most important tasks of an executor is to protect the deceased's property. In the days and weeks after a person's death, it is not unusual for family members or friends to come forward looking for certain items. However, items should not be distributed until probate has taken place. In order to protect those assets, executors typically need access to their loved ones' homes, and they may even need to change the locks.

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC
909 NE Loop 410
Suite 602
San Antonio, TX 78209

Phone: 210-418-1150
Fax: 210-598-7221

909 NE Loop 410 Suite 602
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